How Do I Give My Puppy A Bath?

He’ll learn to love it 🛁

puppy in a tub with a rubber ducky

Are you confused about how to give your puppy a bath? If it’s his first bath, you’ll definitely want to make the experience fun for him so bath time will be something he enjoys (or at least tolerates) as he gets older .

It’s actually not that hard to bathe a puppy if you take the time to get him used to the process.

The Dodo spoke to Daryl Conner, a professional groomer and owner of FairWinds Grooming Studio, and Dr. Andrea Y. Tu, medical director of Behavior Vets NYC, to find out how to bathe your puppy properly so he can learn to love getting a bath.

JUMP TO: When can you bathe a puppy? | Bath supplies | Where to bathe your puppy | How to get a puppy used to the bath | Steps to bathe a puppy | How often should you bathe a puppy? | How to dry your puppy

When can you bathe a puppy?

You should wait to bathe your puppy until he’s around 8 weeks old (which is also ideally how old puppies should be when they leave their moms). Puppies younger than that can become cold easily if they get wet because they can’t regulate their body temperatures yet.

If your puppy’s younger than 8 weeks and gets into something messy, you can use a washcloth or grooming wipes to wipe him off.

Try these grooming wipes that earned The Dodo’s Paw of Approval from Amazon for $8.99

If you’re not sure if your puppy is ready to get a bath, ask your vet for advice.

Supplies to bathe your puppy

Here’s what you’ll need to bathe your puppy when he’s ready:

Where to bathe your puppy

Since puppies are small, the sink is a great place for a bath. You can also try using your bathtub, but make sure you don’t fill the water up above your puppy’s head.

Or you can wash your dog outside with a hose or in a dog bathtub, which you’ll still be able to use once your puppy grows (and doesn’t fit in the sink anymore).

Try this bathtub from Amazon for $174.99

How to get your puppy used to the bath

Puppies aren’t used to everything that goes on during a bath, like the running water and different smells, which can make them nervous. Follow these tips to prepare your pup so he’ll feel calm and comfortable for his first bath:

  • Start bathing your puppy while he’s young so he’ll get used to it.
  • Turn on the water in the bath before bathing him so he can get familiar with the sound of the running water.
  • If you’re going to use a dog blow dryer, turn it on and let him hear the sound and feel the air.
  • Give him lots of treats when you start bathing him so he’ll think that bath time is fun. You can even bring one of his toys into the bath for him to play with while you wash him.

Tips for bathing your puppy

Here’s how to bathe your puppy, according to a veterinarian and a professional groomer.

Don’t leave your puppy alone in the bath

Never leave your puppy alone in the bath, especially if he’s never been around water or if you don’t know if he can swim. Be sure to supervise him the whole time he’s in the water.

Brush your puppy first

Gently brush your pup before bathing him to get out any knots. Tangled hair traps water, which can lead to skin irritation, matting and hot spots.

“Acquire the appropriate type of brush and comb for your dog's coat type,” Conner told The Dodo.

If your dog has short hair, you should look for brushes with short or soft bristles. For long-haired dogs, look for brushes that detangle and deshedding tools (some short-haired dogs will need deshedding tools also).

“If you are unsure what tools are best, ask a professional groomer for guidance,” Conner said. “There are thousands of different combs and brushes, and not all of them will work on every coat type.”

Use warm water

You should use lukewarm water when washing your puppy. It’s super important to make sure the water isn’t too hot for your dog because dogs can easily overheat, and hot water can burn their sensitive skin.

Use a puppy shampoo

When your puppy’s still young, you can just use warm water to bathe him. But once he’s around 3 to 4 months old, you can start using shampoo.

Be sure to buy a shampoo made specifically for puppies because their skin is very sensitive, and puppy shampoos are formulated to be gentle enough to not irritate them. And don’t use your own shampoo. Using human shampoos on dogs can irritate your dog’s skin and can even be toxic if he swallows some.

“If you luckily have a dog that has fairly normal skin, it is still a good rule of thumb to use products that are made just for dogs and to double-check any over-the-counter shampoos with your vet before using it,” Dr. Tu told The Dodo.

Get your puppy wet before applying the shampoo, and be sure to avoid getting soap in his eyes, ears, mouth and any other sensitive areas.

Be gentle

Be super gentle sudsing the shampoo. Puppies are sensitive and still getting acclimated to their surroundings, so you don’t want to hurt or scare your dog.

Rinse extra well

Make sure to get all the shampoo out of your dog’s fur, since leftover shampoo can irritate your dog’s skin.

“Pro tip: Rinse like crazy, then rinse again,” Conner said. “Products left in the coat can cause skin irritation and attract dirt from the environment to cling to the coat.”

How often to give a puppy a bath

Most puppies are fine with getting a bath once a month, but some may need to be bathed more frequently — dogs who spend a lot of time outside, dogs with skin conditions and dogs with fur that gets easily dirty or matted.

According to Dr. Tu, “The best way to determine what is best for your pup's individual needs is to speak to your veterinarian, as she or he will be most familiar with your dog's specific needs and can provide a recommendation that is tailored to you.”

In general, if you notice your puppy’s especially dirty, then you should definitely give him a bath.

“Many dogs can go by the sniff test — if you're smelling funky or you just had a big day in a muddy park, you probably could use a bathing,” Dr. Tu said.

How to dry your puppy after a bath

Dry your pup off with a towel or dog blow dryer. When using a towel to dry your dog, don’t rub his fur. Rubbing long-haired dogs will cause their hair to become tangled and knotted. Instead, use the towel to press down on his fur to soak up the moisture.

To use a dog blow dryer, put it on the lowest heat and speed settings, avoid pointing it directly at your dog, and brush your dog’s fur as you dry.

You can even get him a dog bathrobe to keep him extra cozy. Dog bathrobes help prevent your pup from cooling down too quickly when he gets out of the water, which is particularly helpful for puppies since they’re not able to fully regulate their body temperatures yet.

Start bathing your puppy while he’s young, and he’ll hopefully learn to love it. And bath time will be much easier for you, too.

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